Once upon a time I was considering National Novel Writer’s Month as an option. I had a great idea for a young adult novel, a great rationale for the fantasy foundation, the location selected and even a few names to develop. It was early September, and I felt I had plenty of time to work on my characters and draw up the storyline, but then I made a mistake.
I talked about the idea with my sons, 15 and 18.
September 17th after work I sat down to begin outlining or shaping “The Chosen.” I started Writing instead.
“So, what’s his name?” Emily was curious, but not really interested.
“Thomas.” Jessica looked back at the library table where the young man looked up and waved. She smiled.
“And he is in Freshman English?” Emily picked her book-bag up from the ground for the tenth time and tried once again to make the strap stay on her chair. The thought crossed her mind that one definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome.
“No,” Jessica sat up but made no effort to open her book. “He’s a Sophomore, and on the football team.”
Emily looked up briefly. Apparently Jessica went for football players. “I thought you had a boyfriend at home.”
“But I’m not at home,” Jessica said with a straight, albeit blond face. “Besides, I want to enjoy the full college experience.” She tossed her hair back and snuck another look at Thomas.
Emily nodded and ran a hand through her short, black locks. It was a boy’s cut left over from ROTC summer camp. If she did not have a Mohawk red streak she figured her hair would have no character at all. “But it has only been five days,” she said, and she thought living a whole year with this roommate was not going to be easy.
Jessica looked at her long French nails before she slammed her hand down on her book. “First day of classes and we already have homework. It’s unnatural.”
Emily looked at the girl’s hand on the book and thought at least that was something. Then she examined her own short, black painted nails and shook her head, sadly. “I’m going back,” she said and picked her book-bag up from the floor. She slid her English book into the bag and stood, and Jessica mirrored her but with a glance to be sure Thomas watched her leave. Emily noticed and spoke quietly, “grumble, grumble.” She was not sure how to put her feelings into words, exactly.
25 days later (October 11) I reached 50,000 words. 12 days later (for a total of 37 days for those of you who may be math challenged) I was done at 79,000 words. I suspect next spring when I edit and tighten it, “The Young and the Strong” may end up closer to 75,000 words, but that was on October 23rd. So now what do I do?
The library door closed quietly behind them with the sound of a shush. The university campus spread out before them like a gray world punctuated by lamps here and there along the paths. Emily looked up once, but there were no stars to be seen because of the library glare. Perhaps she was a foolish freshman to walk across campus in the dark, but she had Jessica for company, such as it was, and the dorm was not far. She knew Trenton was not the safest city in America, but Jersey State University had a great safety reputation, as far as she knew.
“Coffee?” Jessica made the suggestion while she tugged on her too short skirt. Emily put her hand in the pocket of her black slacks, found the two dollars she needed for laundry and shook her head.
“I need to rest.” She honestly felt it was important to keep herself on a good schedule, at least at first.
“Well, I can use some,” Jessica insisted.
Emily hesitated before she spoke. “Can’t. I’ll see you back at the room.”
Jessica also looked ready to say something, but declined. She turned without a word and headed toward the student center. Emily watched for a moment, then turned to her path. She took two whole steps before she heard a stifled scream come from Jessica’s direction. She did not hesitate. She ran toward the sound.
Hopefully one day you will be able to read the whole book for yourselves.
Good luck to all who are participating.